ProRally: Mopar Speed newsletter 2004-02-02

Mopar Speed The Official e-Zine of Team Mopar Monday, February 2, 2004   SCCA ProRally Team Mopar sweeps 2WD classes of SCCA ProRally Sno*Drift opener. Team Mopar kicked off the 2004 SCCA ProRally season with flying colors and showers of ...

Mopar Speed
The Official e-Zine of Team Mopar Monday, February 2, 2004  

SCCA ProRally

Team Mopar sweeps 2WD classes of SCCA ProRally Sno*Drift opener.

Team Mopar kicked off the 2004 SCCA ProRally season with flying colors and showers of snow, sweeping victories in all 2WD categories in the 32nd running of the Sno*Drift near Atlanta, Mich., Friday and Saturday.

Doug Shepherd and co-driver Pete Gladysz piloted their Dodge SRT-4 to first place in Overall 2WD competition and a similar victory in Group 5 competition, courtesy of their 2h, 7m, 34s navigation of the 113-mile, 19 stage circuit. Their time was an impressive seventh overall behind all-wheel-drive entries, which have a fundamental acceleration advantage on surfaces covered in snow and ice.

"On these roads, a 2WD car has wheel spin all the way up to 100 mph in some places," Shepherd said. "The SRT-4 has outstanding handling, so we could out-handle the all-wheel-drive cars where we couldn't out-accelerate them, and that kept us in the top-10 [overall]."

"To come up here and attack the roads like we did and manage our car successfully was a big accomplishment for me personally," said the highly successful Shepherd, whose last outing to Sno*Drift in 2002 ended with a disappointing DNF.

It was Shepherd's sixth consecutive Group 5 victory. He and Gladysz are the defending Overall 2WD and Group 5 champion driver and co-driver, respectively.

Chris Whiteman and co-driver Mike Paulin were the easy victors of Group 2, thanks to their total elapsed-time of 2h, 22m, 16s they earned driving their Dodge Neon SXT. It was the pair's second consecutive class victory and second straight Sno*Drift Group 2 win.

"It was getting pretty slippery there at the end," Whiteman said. "We're very happy to finish with the win. In three years driving at Sno*Drift, this is the best I've seen the conditions - it was a true winter rally."

In total, four Dodge vehicles wore the sharp Mopar barbed wire paint scheme. The other two vehicles were 2004 Dodge SRT-4s that competed in Group 5.

Don Jankowski, who won last year's Sno*Drift with the help of Gladysz' navigation and Mopar power, brought his SRT-4 home second in the Group 5 standings, this time with the help of co-driver Ken Nowak.

W.G. Giles, the 1992 Production Class ProRally champion, drove owner Brian Vinson's SRT-4 with the help of co-driver John Atsma. The team turned in competitive times throughout most of the rally, but an altercation with a snowbank caused him to run over the time limit on Stage 13, resulting in a DNF.

The four teams were largely populated by DCX employees who gladly braved the biting cold to help their teams to the top. Television coverage of Sno*Drift will air on May 1 at 11 p.m. on Speed Channel. The next SCCA ProRally event, "Oregon Trail," is scheduled for April 23-25 near Hillsboro, Ore.


Steve Francis looks to continue his strong performances in 2004 in dirt late model competition in Florida over the next two weeks.

Francis aims for strong performances at February Race Weeks

For the next week and a half, Steve Francis and his No. 15 Mopar team will take part in the February Race Weeks hosted by Volusia (Fla.) Speedway Park. It will be the team's first run with the newly formed O'Reilly World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Francis and company will compete for the WoO Late Model Winternationals Championship on the lightning fast 1/2-mile oval Feb. 2-7, followed by UMP competition Feb. 9-14 at Volusia.

The circle track veteran enters competition fresh off his "Early Thaw" championship in Arizona. Only weeks into the 2004 racing season, Francis has an impressive record, with five event starts, two victories and five top-five finishes.


Lasoski hits the dirt in Florida

Team Mopar's World of Outlaws star, Danny Lasoski, kicked off his 2004 winged racing season this past weekend at the East Bay Raceway in Tampa, Fla., during the "King of the 360's" Winternationals. "The Dude" turned in two third-place finishes in preliminary action on Wednesday and Thursday, which assured him a starting position in Saturday's event finale. Rain caused the cancellation of racing action on Friday and Saturday nights, washing out the "Ronald Laney Memorial" event.

Lasoski and the No. 20 Team Mopar crew will head to Volusia (Fla.) Speedway Park to compete in 410 winged sprint car action this week, and will then return to East Bay Raceway for the 410 Sprint Winternationals next week.

Team Mopar USAC and WoO owner Tony Stewart showed his own versatility by helping drive the historic 24 hour race at Daytona International Speedway.

Mopar owner Stewart scores a near miss at Rolex 24

Team Mopar owner and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup standout Tony Stewart came up just short of his first victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday afternoon. Stewart, who was paired with fellow NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Rolex veteran Andy Wallace, was driving when a broken suspension piece took the trio out of contention with less than an hour left in the rain soaked event.

"I told the team I wanted hazard pay for driving on two wheels," Stewart said. "None of the tires on the rear were on the ground and it kept getting worse and I could still run fast enough to pull away from second and win this thing, but then the tire came off and turned sideway."

The team had put the Daytona Prototype in the lead in the seventh hour of the endurance event and steadily pulled away from the competition throughout the event.

Stewart will begin his pursuit of the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Championship on February 15, with the running of the Daytona 500.


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About this article
Series SCCA , Stock car , World of Outlaws
Drivers Andy Wallace , Dale Earnhardt , Tony Stewart , Danny Lasoski , Steve Francis